India’s position in Global R&D, challenges faced & improvements required

India’s position in Global R&D, challenges faced & improvements required

In today’s connected world, increasingly driven by technology, communication, and super human intelligence, Research & Development is the fundamental element. The growth of any nation demands adequate investments in Research & Development initiative leading to innovations.

Innovation lies at the core of any solution to the challenges facing our world today; whether it’s the creation of new technologies that can help stretch the limits of what is possible or the development of new business models.

Where does India Stand?

According to Global Innovation Index 2017, India ranked world No 1 in the export of information and communication technology (ICT) services and No 2 in innovation quality, which highlighted the rise of the country as an emerging innovation centre in Asia. Continuing its success journey, India has maintained its world No 1 position in the export of ICT services in Global Innovation Index 2018, while the overall rank has improved to 57, putting it 3 points higher compared to last year. India remains 1st in the Central and Southern Asia region and moves up to the 5th position in the GII rankings among lower-middle-income economies.

India ranks 32nd in Research & Development globally. It is ranked 6th in the category of graduates in science and engineering, 27th on e-participation, 18th on the presence of global research and development companies, 33rd on government’s online service, 38th in general infrastructure, 17th on creative goods exports, 42nd on knowledge impact and 25th on intellectual property payments. Under Market sophistication category, India is 4th in “Ease of protecting minority investors” and 3rd in “Domestic market share”.

India still has more potential, with Education, environmental performance, females employed with advanced degrees, new businesses, and entertainment and media market that needs immediate attention.

Challenges & Way Forward

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), global spending on R&D has reached a record high of almost US$ 1.7 trillion.

India’s investment in science, in terms of Gross Expenditure on Research & Development (GERD), has tripled in the last decade. However, as per Economic Survey, India’s spending on Research & Development has been stagnant at 0.6 to 0.7 percent of GDP in the last two decades — much lower than the US (2.8), China (2.1), Israel (4.3) and Korea (4.2).

Private Research & Development investments are very low compared to public investments in India. In most countries, most of the Research & Development is carried out by the private sector. However, in India, the primary source, as well as user of Research & Development funds, is the government. According to Forbes (2017), the list of the top 2,500 global R&D spenders constitutes only 26 Indian companies compared to 301 Chinese companies.

Thus the primary challenge is that there continues to be little investment. In such a situation, it would be unreasonable to expect substantial progress in technological innovations. Secondly researchers face problems to access latest developments in their respective fields. Corporate R&D funding is showing signs of an increase in the last five years. But, still, the Indian industry is not actively focused. Global corporations largely carry out most industrial R&D activities in India. Consequently, the IP value of their research largely goes to their parent country. Further, research in Indian universities and research institutions are not completely aligned with the industry.

Better funding is definitely a solution; however, it remains a partial answer. Research and innovation culture in our education system needs to be developed in students right from their school and college days.


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Technical guru with broad and deep knowledge of all facets computer systems, allowing for the quick mastery of arbitrary technologies especially on Windows platform. Over twenty years experience in the field of Information Technology. On weekends I'm mostly with my Canon 7D trekking and clicking pictures of Landscapes and Wild Life.

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